SBD/Issue 177/Sports Media

ESPN's Bratches Discusses Net's 3D Efforts In Extensive Q&A

Bratches Very Encouraged By
ESPN 3D's Affiliates, Direction

ESPN Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Sean Bratches yesterday said the net is "very encouraged with the state of affiliates we have going into the marketplace with ESPN 3D," according to Kent Gibbons of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. ESPN 3D "will launch on the top cable operator (Comcast) and the top satellite-TV provider (DirecTV) on June 11 with access to more than 40 million homes," and Bratches said the net is "continuing to move on" landing new affiliates. Bratches, in a Q&A at a 3DTV conference, said that by '19, ESPN "thinks penetration of 3D sets in the home will be below HD sets but above digital video recorders." Bratches said that ESPN 3D "will only take 3D commercials," but that the net is "pitching 3D-related advertising across its platforms, and that's where the biggest revenue potential lies." Gibbons noted ESPN "has already produced its first 'This is SportsCenter' spot in 3D, and Sony will have a 3D commercial on the new network when it launches" on June 11. Meanwhile, Bratches emphasized that while ESPN "has shown 3D events on an experimental basis in theaters, ESPN 3D will be focused on 'the home experience' to suit distributors and advertisers needs." Bratches: "We don't want to do anything to circumnavigate the price-value relationship of ESPN to our affiliates." Bratches added that ESPN is "working with arenas around the country to find the best camera angles to suit 3D." The net  "plans to bring in semi-pro football players later this week to a field in Hartford, Conn., to work on covering different down-and-outs, fly patterns and other passing maneuvers" during 3D broadcasts. Bratches: "We're really digging our cleats in to make sure that the consumer experience is second to none." Bratches said that ESPN 3D "likely will launch with a roster of about 100 events, up from the previously promised 85" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 5/25).

SLOW ADOPTION: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' David Tanklefsky wrote consumer adoption of 3D TVs "still has a very long way to go before the emerging technology comes close to approaching critical mass." HDMI Licensing President Steve Venuti: "This definitely is the year that everybody's converging on 3D except for one person and that's the consumer." But panelists at the 3DTV conference said that the 3D viewer experience is "so compelling, it is just a matter of time before the standard becomes an accepted entertainment medium" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 5/25).

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